Mega mac and cheese: Sammarinese nidi di rondine

It’s kind of ironic that we’re posting this recipe today, because it’s the total opposite of the way we’ve been eating lately. Last weekend, we returned from a holiday in Australia which was full of indulging in the nation’s finest seafood, wines and ice cream (to name a few delicacies). Since returning home, we’ve been rather more abstinent – which is definitely not a word you would use to describe San Marino’s national dish, nidi di rondine (swallows’ nests), which we made and ate before we went away. With a list of ingredients that mainly centres around cheese, meat and pasta, this is definitely an indulgence – but such a worthy one! We got our recipe from All That Cooking.

Nidi di rondine

For the pasta:
100g plain flour
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tbsp grated garlic
200ml passata
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the cheese sauce:
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp plain flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:
100g thinly sliced Gouda cheese (ideally Fontina, but we couldn’t find it – Gouda is a good substitute)
100g thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Make the pasta dough by combining the ingredients and kneading to form a smooth dough. Rest the dough in the fridge while you make the other components.
2. To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until translucent.
3. Gently stir in the garlic, passata and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for a minute.
4. Season with pepper, remove from heat and reserve.
5. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gently whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until there are no lumps.
6. Pour in the milk and bring to the boil, whisking continually. When boiling, reduce heat and cook for two minutes, still whisking continually.
7. Whisk in the cheese and cook for two minutes (still whisking).
8. Season with pepper, remove from heat and reserve.
9. Preheat the oven to 190C and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
10. Place the pasta dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a very thin 12×18 inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle into thirds along the long end.
11. Place one of the thirds into the water and cook for 4 minutes, then remove and place on a clean, dry cloth (one that you don’t mind getting some tomato sauce on – we learnt this the hard way). Repeat with the other two thirds, arranging each third on the cloth so that you reassemble the rectangle, overlapping the strips by about a centimetre.
12. When the pasta has cooled enough to comfortably handle, evenly cover it with half the cheese sauce then all of the tomato sauce.
13. Arrange the Gouda over the sauces, then top with prosciutto.
14. Roll lengthwise as tightly as you can, Swiss roll-style, then cut the roll into 12 even slices (about 1 1/2 inches thick). If you’re not a Sammarinese nonna, this might be a two person job.
15. Cover the bottom of a 11×6 inch baking dish with the remaining cheese sauce, then place the rolled slices into the dish, cut side up.
16. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
17. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
18. Serve with a salad and a crisp white Italian wine.
Serves 2, indulgently

888a Swallows' nests prep - tomato sauce ingredients compressed

889a Cheese sauce ingredients compressed

890a Cooking sauces compressed

891a Pasta dough compressed

892a Cut dough compressed

895a Layered dough compressed

896a Sauces layer compressed

897a Cheese and prosciutto layer compressed

898a Nests in dish compressed

899a Topped with cheese compressed

900a Baked swallows' nests compressed
Look at all that oozy cheesy goodness.

902a Dinner with wine compressed

We mentioned earlier that ‘abstinent’ is not a word you would use to describe this dish. Nor, indeed, are ‘simple’ or ‘healthy’ – it was quite fiddly to make, and it’s probably for the best that we don’t know what the calorie count was. One word that you definitely could apply, though, is ‘YUM.’ Although we did feel a little bit like we’d overeaten, we did enjoy every mouthful! We recommend this one.

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